My name is Courtney and I hate meetings. I always have and I always will. Me hating meetings does not mean I hate conversation, the people I work with, or my job. In fact I enjoy the people I work with and my job, and like speaking with my colleagues and clients very much. But I do not like meetings.
My name is Courtney and I’m an introvert. What is an introvert? An introvert is someone who works and thinks best alone, in silence. Introverts are not “people persons” but they’re not anti-social either. We like our space, we like our silence, and we like you, too. Extroverts, by contrast, work best and are happiest when surrounded by people, and do not enjoy being alone. They thrive in company, and usually do not understand the ways of an introvert. This point is important for you to know, and key to the rest of this blog post on why I hate meetings. To read more about introverts and extroverts, I recommend this article.
Meetings are, most likely, inventions of extroverts (people who thrive in the company of others). Meetings involve one person talking and other people listening. Extroverts come alive in meetings, especially if other extroverts are present (these are the meeting members who talk and “bounce ideas” around). But in most meetings, you’ll find a few people saying nothing at all, doodling, and probably wishing they were anywhere else (me). It is sometimes assumed that we doodlers are being rude by not listening and paying attention. I can’t speak for everyone, but that’s not me. I am listening and paying attention, I just have nothing to contribute. Sure, I have rude moments just as much as the next person, but in general I’m not rude at all. Meetings are just a place where I’m uncomfortable and, quite frankly, totally useless. Allow me to explain.
Extroverts need to talk to generate ideas. They’re predominantly verbal communicators, and without talking, their ideas are slow to come. It’s what makes extroverts great public speakers: they’re dynamic in a group, and can come up with ideas when speaking, even on the fly. They need meetings and find them valuable. To an extroverted person, a meeting is a wonderful tool to get people together, talking about ideas and plans, which helps the company or organization become more successful. For a group of extroverts, a meeting is effective.
Introverted people, such as myself, do not think in a group setting by talking. Introverts think when they’re alone, when they’re doing something by themselves. Personally, my best thinking time is when I write, and I prefer communicating through writing. So, when in a meeting, if someone asks me what I think, I feel uncomfortable, put on the spot, and pressured. It’s difficult for me to think in a meeting. The same could be said about talking on the phone. If ever I say something while attending a meeting, it’s probably something I’ve thought of before (when I was alone). I typically come up with an idea or opinion about what was discussed in a meeting after the fact. That doesn’t make me stupid, it’s just the way my brain works. It needs the silence and the peace.
Sometimes you have to do what don’t want to.
Someone reading this is thinking the above statement. You’re right. My life isn’t filled with what I want to do. There are some things in life I must accept: paying taxes (icky), doing the laundry, paying bills, being nice to people I don’t like, having to work for money, putting new tires on my car (cha-ching). But meetings aren’t just something I hate because I’d rather do something else–anything else, by the way, like going to the dentist–I hate them because they poop me out.
Meetings make my brain tired. Where an extrovert is energized by the flowing of ideas and all the communication, an introvert is wishing they were anywhere else, even if he’s pretending he’s having a good time.
Does this make introverted people weaker? No, it just makes us different. Introverted people pursue careers which are mostly solitary: artists, authors, designers, and many others. We enjoy time to ourselves, time for reflection. We come up with our best ideas when we’re alone.
Encountered with silence and solitude, an extrovert reaches out for company. Does this make him weak? No, just as before, wanting to be around others is just the way an extrovert’s brain works.
So, how are we to work together? Extroverts want to gather for a meeting to bounce around ideas, and introverts plan on ways and excuses to get out of meetings so they can read the minutes of the meeting and contribute their ideas after the fact. Sadly, we introverts usually lose this battle unless we can get out of it by going to some kind of medical appointment. Extroverts typically get their way. Introverts, in trying to be accommodating and “team players” drag their feet to meetings, all to be “polite.”
My solution to this problem has been to explain my position, which of course risks offending someone or being misinterpreted as rude. For a long time–well, for all of my public life–I have been subjected to an extroverted world. I’m not sure how many times I’ve been told to “come out of my shell.” (Conversely, extroverts are never told to go into their shell–it’s a wicked one way street.) In my lifetime I’ve been called shy, withdrawn, pensive, a wallflower, and have always been encouraged to be more outgoing and assertive. But that’s not who I am. I enjoy being quiet and sometimes withdrawn. I like my shell, it’s wonderfully decorated.
On the subject of Loners
Being an introvert doesn’t make me anti-social or rude. I enjoy people and the company of friends. I’m a confident person, tell jokes, banter, try to partake in small talk (I do not enjoy it, but I’ll do it), and so forth. As an introvert, I do not need a lot of social interaction to be happy, I just need a little bit. I’m perfectly content to spend most of my day alone, not talking to anyone, just doing my own thing. Does this make me a loner? “Loner” is another term applied to an introvert. It’s often used negatively, but that needs to stop. Most of us “loners” are loners by choice, not because we’re weird and cannot make friends. Yet there’s always a lot of sympathy and pity that’s doled out to those of us who are alone.
I love living alone. When I moved out of my parents house, I had a few minutes of teary sadness, then I realized how cool it was. I had my own space. To myself. FINALLY!
To be totally honest, there are a few times I’m lonely and feel sorry for myself. The time on that is probably…four to five hours in a 45 to 60 day period. To solve that problem, I call my mother and wallow. She tells me it will all be okay, and then pretty soon I bounce back and am glad to live alone. If you suffer from this kind of thing, I recommend an exercise regime. Exercise solves many a self-pity session.
I am currently single and happy. When I was younger, I dreamed of having a husband and family, and was sad that I didn’t have those people in my life. The older I get, though, the more I enjoy my independence and alone time. When I think of my future mate, I picture us together not saying anything at all, just sitting side-by-side. Whoever he is will be a relaxing presence.
For now, though, I’m having a blast without this mystery man. Life has so much to offer. There are so many wonderful things in this world, and what a beautiful world it is. We’re filled with great ideas and plans, and in the right amounts, we enjoy each other’s company.
And hey, let’s not waste so much time in meetings. Or, if you must have them, know that I don’t hate them because I’m lazy and just don’t want to go. I hate them because they hated me first. Besides, I probably have a dentist’s appointment.